You Can Overcome! Find Those Keys!
Wednesday Night, May 24, 2000
(excerpt from a time when some Saints were together in Indianapolis)
Some thoughts that might be helpful in getting a perspective of our lives, the journey that we are on, and how to get farther down the road than perhaps you feel like you are right now…
There is a stage that a lot of us have gone through, and it seems virtually impossible to me that there could still be anyone here in this stage (although the world is full of this stage). I’m speaking of a form of christianity, a form of godliness, but in this case denying the power. There is a stage of doing things that has a religious overtone to it, but in essence is “using” God. It is using God because we are really not going to do what He wants and no one is going to make us. And we are not going to let anyone talk to us about it when we are not doing what He wants. We are going to do what is right in our own eyes. “The rest of you do what you want. I’ll do what I want. You are just being judgmental… Get the log out of your own eye.” This stage of existence is basically just false religion and it’s blasphemous. Jesus is not Lord. He is just a figurehead. He’s an icon. He’s a logo who means nothing to our daily lives.
That’s a religious stage and it probably describes a huge, huge, huge number of people, and probably a huge percentage of the christian world. People do whatever they please; Jesus will not hem them in in any way. They will not be restrained. Their self-control is non-existent. They will do what they please, when they please and no one would dare say anything to them. There is a lot of religion, a lot of so-called “christianity” that way. Jesus is not Lord, and therefore, according to Peter, He is also not Savior. It is false christianity. It’s junk. It’s the mental pacifier, the placebo that all the atheists talk about and make fun of.
And the atheists are right about people in this stage. Religion is just the opiate of the people for their own conscience salve, but it means nothing to them in their daily lives. They do whatever they please. They sing the songs to feel good and they might even pray the prayers to feel good, but they are going to do what they want to do and will not be restrained by anybody or anything. There is no point spending much more time on that, because we are aware that it is false religion. It is false christianity. It’s nonsense. It has nothing to do with what Jesus died for or anything that Jesus taught.
The next stage—which is difficult to get out of—is when a person is genuinely sincere about following Jesus and there has been a genuine conversion. This second stage is one of doing things ABOUT Jesus. We find out all the right things that are supposed to be the “christian things to do.” We might even ask people—“So what should I do? What about this? What about that?” Then we go through our lives sort of confused, frustrated, wondering what people think, wondering what we are supposed to do, not knowing between choice A and choice B, feeling guilty at times, depressed at other times, failing, succeeding, or thinking we are succeeding, and then finding out later we are not and then we are depressed.
This stage is basically a legalistic thing that is genuinely about Jesus in an external sense—because the desire is honestly to please Him—but it is, as you can guess from the description, sort of embarrassing and sort of depressing and somewhat of a bondage. But it’s sincere, and I know God will honor that. The things that go on in our minds will not affect our salvation in that sense if we are genuinely sincere about doing what we do for Jesus. That state of affairs is not an issue that is about salvation, but it is obviously a very unfortunate state that a person would be in to always be frustrated and confused, always looking around trying to find out the right thing to do and never quite finding it. It’s a very difficult thing to do. It’s a brain game that seems to be endless and excruciatingly painful with almost no relief.
For Him and With Him
The next stage beyond doing things about Jesus is to do things FOR Jesus. In other words, there are vertical issues going on here—“Jesus, I want to do this FOR You.” This person is involved in the highest possible sense of really desiring to do these things for Jesus. They talk to Him about it. They want to please Him—“Jesus, what do You want me to do? Jesus, this is going to cost me. I’m going to make this choice to turn away from this temptation, I’m going to make this choice to turn away from this thought process. Jesus, I offer this to You as a gift, this issue of self-control. I want to do this thing; my flesh desires it. But not my will—Yours be done.” It’s a vertical issue, and it’s a love affair with Him. Our souls want to melt into His soul and really enjoy Him and worship Him. We behold Him and are transformed into His image from glory to glory. It’s a vertical issue and it’s real. It’s alive and there is substance to it. It’s a relationship with a person. We know that has to be how it is. We know it at least has to be that, right? We are not going to just do things about Him, we are not just externally doing things for Him, but we are going to do it with Him as a Person, for Him because He is a Person.
That is an awesome state of affairs in some respects, and frankly there are a lot of people in christendom who don’t even know that that is what they are supposed to do. They would be shocked to hear that there is more than simply making a “right choice” given a set of circumstances and some potential temptations. If they make the right choice, most people in the christian world just say, “I’m supposed to do this because it’s the Christian thing.” There are a few people, a small percentage, a fraction that say, “Jesus, I want to do this for You.” And they talk to Him about it. They say, “Jesus, I want to offer this gift to You. I’m about to make a good choice. I want to show You my love by giving You this gift.” There are a few people that do that. Not very many, because most people never knew they could. They never knew they should. They’ve just been taught a religion about Him, but not necessarily with Him and for Him as a person. It’s certainly a quantum leap toward reality to actually relate to Him as a person, talk to Him about the choices, ask questions about the things that perplex us or frustrate us, and to find comfort in discussing things with Him.
Breaking Free—Life IN Him
The next thing that I want to describe to you is something even a smaller fraction of people walk in, and I just want to make sure that everyone has an invitation to go there if you are not there already. It’s a life of doing things IN Him. Not just about Him (religion that is external, “doin’ the right thing”). But also not just about Him as a person, doing it technically for Him. Not even technically doing it with Him, discussing it with Him. But even a step further than that is to do it IN Him.
I think, having gone through the other stages as many of you have, that there are still a lot of us who maybe find ourselves frustrated with failures and find ourselves somehow unable to find victory over things that have been in our lives for a long period of time. What I want to make crystal clear for us is that the Jesus who died for your sins to forgive the past, also lives in resurrection power to empower the future. The Son of God was manifested to destroy the devil’s works, to utterly uproot them and destroy them. And, in the context of 1 John 3 (where that Scripture is), it goes on to say that we don’t have to sin anymore.
We don’t have to be subject to sin any longer. We don’t have to be tossed around like a rag doll in a dog’s mouth, just gutted and thrown aside in the yard with our stuffing hanging out and settling for praising God because “we are saved, anyway.” I don’t have to fail day after day, year after year and be miserable. Even though I’m doing it for Him, I find myself failing. I find myself miserable. That doesn’t have to happen. It’s good to be forgiven. It’s good to find some comfort in our discouragement or in our problems or in our failures by talking to Him about it. But there is another issue that could be described as overcoming. It could be described as, “The prince of this world has come, but he has nothing in me.” It could be described as, “We don’t have to sin anymore” (1Jn. 3).
If we’ve seen Him and we’ve known Him, and we’ve experienced His presence in us, then we can live in such a way as to be as free as He was free. That doesn’t mean without temptation, but He didn’t have to look back on a day knowing He’d failed, either.
Most of us look back—need to look back—on a good number of our days (if we are honest with ourselves, perceptive enough, sincere enough, and thorough enough) and say, “I have failed on a number of occasions. I failed with these thoughts, I failed with this attitude, I failed with this reaction in my home, I failed to give when I should have given, I failed to notice when I should have noticed, I failed to respond correctly when someone insulted me or slighted me or didn’t give me credit on the job or stole from me in the workplace. I’ve reacted. I’ve felt things I shouldn’t feel, and I acted on them or harbored them.” Most of us would have to look back on a number of our days in any given week and say, “There was higher ground there that I didn’t plant my feet on. There is a way that Jesus is that I know wasn’t in how I responded to my children, how I responded to my financial problems, how I responded to my lack of sleep or to my hunger, or to a lack of discipline in some area or another.” Fair?
Now, what I want to make sure is deeply rooted in our understanding is that Jesus, if you are born a second time, lives inside of you. Jesus does not need to sin. There is absolutely nothing about the Jesus that is inside of you that is willing to sin or be subject to sin. He lives in a resurrected life, in the power of an indestructible life. If Christ is in you, THE hope of glory, if that is true (and it is true if you are born a second time), then Jesus Himself has come to live inside of you, which goes way past forgiveness into victory. Now if Christ doesn’t dwell in you or live in you, you are not one of His (Rom. 8; Eph. 1; Gal. 3). But you do belong to Him if you are saved, if your sins are forgiven.
Now, here is the dilemma: I find myself failing in some area or another—maybe on a consistent basis or maybe a sporadic, surprise basis. But, either way, I find myself sinning. Maybe I was ignorant that it was a sin, and then I find out that it is. Perhaps it’s a lack of control, or perhaps I’m dealing with it and it sort of overwhelms me. I have a choice to make in a situation like that. I could decide to be depressed, frustrated, angry with myself, hostile toward others, and close myself up in my room. I could do that, but that’s obviously not how Jesus would be, is it? I could also harden myself and be cocky about it: “Well, praise God, Jesus lives inside of me! Death, where is your victory? Where is your sting, sin?” … “Forget all that stuff. I’m forgiven. I don’t have to worry about it….” Well, that’s a hardness and self-deception that will continue to perpetuate the sin also. I don’t want to be depressed. I also don’t want to be calloused to it. I have to be sensitive to it.
But if I’m not depressed and I’m not calloused to it, what is the other opportunity here? What is the other situation that is more appropriate for an overcomer? What is more appropriate for someone who is born a second time and has the Creator of the Universe living inside of them? The most appropriate choice to believe that Jesus lives inside of you and, therefore, all the potential in the galaxy to bust satan to smithereens, to overcome any sin, any temptation, any mood, any emotion, or any lack of self-control lives inside of you. All of that stuff is vanquished in the sight of Jesus. Therefore, all the potential in the galaxy to live in a free way, unfettered by sin—no depression, no fear, no failure—all of that potential lives inside of me.
So now, if I have failed, what does that mean? That means that I have not learned how to tap the potential that Jesus presents inside of me. We can sing worshipful songs all day long and then still find ourselves failing again and again, right? Can anybody relate? Before you sang those songs to Jesus and truly plugged into His heart, you were very shallow and very empty in those times of failing. You were able to find some satisfaction in being a worshipper. You found some peace, some comfort in turning toward Jesus and talking to Him about it and being with Him in the transaction of dealing with your sin. You found some comfort in that. And that is far better than just “trying to do better next time,” which is so unvertical, so religious, and so powerless. There is something there in being a worshipper and turning toward Him, for Him, with Him.
But what I am saying to you is that there is something else still available. If you find yourself, in spite of all your worship and in spite of all your discussion with Him, continuing to fail, falling back again and again into this torturous situation that tempts you to be depressed, tempts you to despair, tempts you to quit or to be hardened and spiritually arrogant (whatever it may be); if you find yourself being a worshipper toward Him and still continuing to be battered, then I want to suggest to you that instead of being depressed or religiously calloused and arrogant about it (“Praise God, I’m forgiven. I won’t be condemned”—meaning “I won’t be convicted”), instead of falling into those categories, view it as an opportunity. View it as an adventure. If the potential that Jesus has lives inside of you—the person of Jesus, Christ in you, the Hope of Glory, Christ dwelling in your hearts through faith—if Jesus Himself, the One who cannot be touched by sin (“The prince of this world has come, but he has nothing in me.”) lives inside of you, then you do not have to sin. I guarantee it. Because He doesn’t sin and He doesn’t have to sin, therefore, you don’t either.
You can be dead to the world and the world to you. You can be crucified with Christ. You can die in His death and be raised to resurrection Life in His life. That is what the Scriptures say. We can reckon ourselves dead to sin. We can participate in His power and His death to sin and share that in a practical, real way. But what I am saying to you is this: If you don’t find that to be your experience, and you are tossed around, then instead of being depressed or becoming calloused because you just don’t want to feel conviction anymore, turn to Him and look toward Him as a source of power to overcome—a Source of power that you have not yet found out how to tap into.
Find Those Keys
Let’s say I had an automobile and I couldn’t get it to work, but I knew theoretically that the power to drive this automobile existed. I knew that for a fact because someone very credible, like God, for example, said that the power to drive this automobile exists. But I couldn’t get it to work. What would I do? Would I be depressed and just climb into the back seat and go to sleep? Would I be arrogant and sit behind the wheel and pretend that I was driving when I really wasn’t? Who am I kidding? We really do want to drive. We really do want to overcome sin. We really do want to be full of the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom and see the Glory of God and the Life of God and the power of God in our homes, in our workplaces, in our personal lives, in our secret lives! We DO want to see that! We don’t want to sit behind the wheel and steer like crazy, pretending we are driving. And we don’t want to climb in the back seat and cry and moan and whine, or be angry and fall asleep doing all of that. So what we have to do is search. If the power of God lives inside of you as a person—and that is a fact if you are saved—then the power to overcome sin and be victorious might be dormant, but it is absolutely, totally within you.
Never think, for even a second, anything less than that, because God said that the power to overcome every sin lives inside of you. God said it, so it’s a fact. So, perhaps I can’t drive the car, but I’m not going to pretend I’m driving it and I’m not going to climb in the back depressed and frustrated and angry—whining, moaning, accusing. If I’m not going to do that, then what remains? Look for the keys, man! Look in the crack of the seat. Look in the glove compartment. Look under the seat. Look up on the dash. Pull the back seat out and dig in the trunk. Try to find the keys because they are there. What I am saying (just to revert this back to the original intention) is this: If you feel weak—spiritually, physically, emotionally—it’s not because Jesus is weak. If He lives inside of you, then the potential to be an overcomer in those areas is there.
Now, I don’t mean that it will be without temptation and I don’t mean it will be without pain. But, I do mean that it will be without the constant failure, constant cycle and barrage of failure and dullness, etc. I mean you can and shall—by God’s grace, His power, and your faith—overcome those things. But you have to look for the keys.
If I am failing, I don’t need to be depressed or angry with myself or anyone else. What I need to do is say, “So where are the keys? What am I doing wrong? How am I not tapping the power of God that lives inside of me? I’m not drawing on the life of God. Somehow the Christ that’s in me is not expressing Himself very well in these sorts of situations. Why not?” So now it’s an adventure. Now, it’s an exciting journey because I know the potential for all that Jesus is. “Greater works than these shall you do.” I know all that potential is there to not be a rag doll and have my stuffing all over the yard when I go to my grave. All that potential already lives inside of me. I’m not just talking to Him about it, though that’s wonderful. I’m not just asking for forgiveness and worshipping, though that’s good. Do that too. But beyond that, understand this: You can tap the life of Jesus of Nazareth and all of His power to overcome sin by learning how to live in the Spirit rather than just for the Spirit or with the Spirit. Learn how to live in the Spirit.
If you are a wimp, if you are a failure, if your character and personality traits are less than the character and personality traits of Jesus of Nazareth…guess what? The potential to have the full measure of the stature and the fullness of Christ Himself dwells inside of you. It’s not far off to be attained. He lives inside of you. So my lack is not my lack of trying. My lack is not my inherent weaknesses. My lack is that I’ve not yet found the keys to the car that I know I can drive. I know they exist. I’m not going to doubt that. I’m not going to fear and I’m not going to pretend and I’m not going to quit and fall asleep in the back or be angry. I’m going to find the keys. Those keys are in the Scriptures. Those keys are in the teachings of Jesus and the apostles who did learn how to live in that life and in that power.
“Christ dwells in your hearts through faith.” What does that mean? I want to know how Christ dwells in my heart! I know He does, but I’m not experiencing that. How can I experience that?! Maybe I haven’t been living in faith. I thought I was. I believe in God. Well, maybe that’s not what He meant when He said that He dwells in our hearts by faith. He must mean more than that because He is not dwelling mightily in my life and I know He can and I know He wants to. So, what is getting in the way? What am I missing here? Think, think, think, think. What am I doing wrong here? What am I missing about the life of Christ and how to tap into the riches of the glory of God? There must be some things that I am missing, because I know it’s available. I know it’s His desire, and yet I am not experiencing it. So what’s missing?
It’s an adventure. Your failures only mean that there is a lot of stuff out ahead of you that is available to you if you would pursue it with all your heart. What I’m saying is, don’t just be religious, doing the right things and trying to please everyone—“What’s the right thing, what’s the right thing, what will make everyone happy?” Wrong. That’s not Christianity. It’s also not, “Jesus, I want to do this for You. Jesus, I want to be a worshipper and I want to relate to You.” It’s not just that. It is that, but there is something beyond that.
Many of you already know there has to be something beyond that because you do turn to Him. You do fellowship with Him. You do relate to Him. You do talk to Him about your failures. You do talk to Him about the things that trouble you. You are not disconnected, doing stuff for yourself. You are worshippers. Most of you, if not all of you, are worshippers from the heart and that is good. But still, I think if I took a poll, a number of you would find yourself to be feeling like failures a lot more often than you want to—a lot more often than you know pleases Him. You know your personality is still foolish or childish or temperamental or easily frustrated. You know your temperament, your moods, your choices, the things that come out of your mouth—you know those attitudes and decisions are not really Jesus far too frequently. So, what’s left? You either accept it the way it is, fall asleep in the back seat, get angry, blame someone else, pretend it’s the way it’s supposed to be and sit behind the steering wheel going nowhere (driving your little steering wheel as fast as you can and sitting still while you are doing it—there are people in the world who do that), or you can search desperately for the keys while you are fellowshipping with Him, and find out why these are still weaknesses for you. Find out why you are still tossed to and fro like a child.
All That Jesus Is
The Scripture that is right after “the full measure of the stature of Christ” in all of His fullness and glory and personality and character qualities…the one right after that is, “…no longer infants tossed to and fro…” Not babies who are pushed around by all the same ol’ junk year after year. There is a fullness and a stature and a personality that is available if we learn how to live in Christ rather than just with Christ and for Christ. So, find the keys. I’m tempting you. I’m tormenting you, I’m jabbing you. I’m not trying to give you answers. I’m trying to say, be desperate to find those answers, because all that Jesus is is available to you.
All the weaknesses that you have had with your drawn face and moods—it just doesn’t need to be that way anymore. All that Jesus is and every character quality that you have ever sung about, every character quality that you have ever admired and loved about Him is available to each of us if we would find out how to live in Him rather than for Him. We learn how to draw on and commune with His Life. We learn how to experience Him rather than just do it for Him—how to experience Him when the temptations come, when the moods hit us, when the hormones hit us, when the circumstances bang us. So, how do we experience Him and let Him live, rather than just trying to do the right things and then talking to Him about it? By all means, try to do the right things. By all means, talk to Him about it. But also understand that you can let Him live rather than just trying really hard to do the right thing. And, what is seen then, in your circumstances is, “The prince of this world has come, but he has nothing in me.” Your character and your personality will change right before the very eyes of your co-workers, your family, and so on.
Has anyone attained to such a thing? I know I haven’t. My tongue is too sharp sometimes. My moods get too unraveled, at times. There are times that I know that I am not living in Him when that stuff happens. Sometimes I immediately talk about it. Sometimes I just dwell on it, think about it late at night and talk to God about it. But, what I know for sure is that I don’t have to be that way and I don’t plan on being that way in the future. Also, I know it’s an adventure. That’s what I want to try to give to you, if you are not already understanding. I could be depressed when I fail. I could think, “Well, everything God has ever done for me is bogus. Everything I’ve always tried to do for Him is a sham, because after all, I’m still tossed around by this.” I’m still tempted this way or that way, so therefore I’m going to be angry, bitter, depressed, whine, accuse, quit, or pretend that everything is okay when it’s not. I could go through all that stuff—and it’s not that I haven’t at times. But, here’s the difference. Now, I know this: Because He does live inside of me, it is an adventure to find out how to draw Him out so that He is the only one exposed to those temptations! No longer I, but Christ! He is the only one now exposed to these temptations. I’m not. I know it’s an adventure to find out how it is that I’m not yet living in faith, how it is that I’ve shortchanged the opportunities that are in front of me. Somehow I have sabotaged my own potential and now I am intrigued about where those keys are. Where are they? I know they are there. Where are those keys? I want those keys!! It is an adventure to live in Him. It’s a burden to do stuff for Him. It’s a joy, but there are too many failures just to do it with Him. But there is a massive amount of victory, more than we have ever asked for or imagined, in doing it in Him, rather than just for Him or about Him.
Spring That Trap
It is possible to booby trap our own fullness, our own stature in Christ, our own ability to vanquish the enemy and scoff at him, to make a public spectacle, an open show of the enemy, humiliating him, as the Scriptures say. Here’s one of the ways we booby trap our own futures—let me ask you this question: How many of you got the alphanumeric page from Betty about Ephesians 1-2? How many of you got my page after that saying, “Please read Ephesians 1 and 2 and really meditate on it?” How many of you did it? I don’t know if that’s 100% or not; I don’t think so. But, if you want to booby trap your own future, go ahead and be lazy and sloppy.
If you are asking yourself, “Why do I fail? How am I not able to draw and tap the power of God that lives inside of me?” One way you could booby trap it is by being sloppy and lazy. If you didn’t read Ephesians 1-2, maybe there is an outstanding reason why you didn’t, and that’s fine. No problem. But in your own heart, you know whether you were sloppy and lazy, or if it was really God saying, “Not now. You will have time later. What I have to do for you right this minute is more important.” You know which one it was. But if you didn’t pursue that, that sloppiness and laziness is unraveling your potential. It’s undermining, booby trapping, sabotaging Christ in you, the hope of glory. And, living that way is a foolish and ridiculous waste. There is a practical example for you.
One thing that would have been very fair to do, just for the pure fun of it would have been to say, “Everyone who actually spent some time with God reading Ephesians 1-2, based on Betty’s page, raise your hand. Everyone that didn’t raise your hand, go home. You are not welcome here tonight.” That would have been very fair to do, wouldn’t it? God is serious about it. Why shouldn’t we be?
So, let’s go back to the practical for a second. “I will be found by those that search for Me with all their heart.” You can decide whether your time and attention and affections wander off in other ways or if you really do want to know Him. You can decide if you do want to experience the power of His resurrection in your mortal body. Those are decisions that you will make for yourself, because it is possible. It is His desire. The keys are right there to drive away in His glory. “I rise up to worship, I stand to acclaim, the King of all glory, Christ Jesus His name. Fill me, make me a chariot of fire.” Great song. But is that really what you want out of your life, or do you just want to be a mortal crybaby, weakling, a rag doll strewn about in the front yard by the dogs that come and put their saliva all over you? Is that really what you want? What is it that you want with your life? That is a decision that each of us can make only on an individual basis. What do we put our attention into? Is it landscaping, computers, sports? What really is most important to us? “I will be found by those who search for Me with all their heart.”
YOU Can Overcome
The potential to be an overcomer and have His life, His power, His character, and His ability to overcome temptation—all that stuff is very, very available to us if we will search for the keys rather than fall asleep or pretend or be angry with someone else. The power of God to overcome even your hormones, your temptations, your fears and failures—the ones that have ransacked you for the last twenty years—the power of Jesus is not a weakling! He is not subject to those things. “The prince of this world has come, but he has nothing in me.” That’s what’s available—the full measure of the stature, the personality and the character of Jesus of Nazareth. That’s what the new covenant is about: Christ in you, the hope—not of survival—but of glory! Make the choices. Find the keys and make the choices.
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the Love of Christ, and to know this Love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:14-19).
That same passage in the Amplified: “For this reason, seeing the greatness of this plan by which you are built together in Christ, I bow my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that Father from Whom all Fatherhood takes its title and derives its name. May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the Holy Spirit, Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality. May Christ through your faith, actually dwell, settle down, abide, make His permanent home in your hearts. May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, that you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints, God’s devoted people, the experience of that love what is the breadth and length and height and depth of it; that you may really come to know practically, through experience for yourselves, the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge without experience, that you may be filled through all your being, unto all the fullness of God, may have the richest measure of the divine Presence and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself! Now to Him Who, by, and in consequence of the action of His power that is at work within us, is able to carry out His purpose and do superabundantly, far over, and above all that we dare ask or think, infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams. To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen. So be it.”
You know what would really be fun? It would be fun if a year or two years from now there was no place you could turn in the body of Christ locally (worldwide would be cool, too, for that matter…but, at least locally…that’s kind of what we have the most to say about), where if someone really didn’t express the personality of Jesus in some situation—they let fear or discouragement or some other temptation come their way and they gave into it with a sharp word or with depression or anger or lust or whatever else it would be—where there wouldn’t be someone who could say, “That really wasn’t Jesus coming through. That was the old man, that was the sinful nature, that was flesh, that was the old dead you, your corpse before Jesus came to live in you; that was that thing. That wasn’t really Jesus coming through.” And, our response to that wouldn’t be defensiveness (“Well, wait a minute! What about you?”), or depression (“You’re right, you’re right. I’ve failed again. Now what are you going to think about me?”). Instead of any of that stuff, our response would be, “You know, you’re right. I wonder where I messed up. I wonder why I wasn’t drawing on the life of Christ in that situation. I wonder where the key is that would free me in a situation like that in the future. I’m glad you brought that up. Thank you, because I want to find that key, too. I hadn’t even noticed that I was missing access to the life of Christ when situations like that came up.” Or maybe our response would be, “You are bringing it to my attention, but I kind of knew that in situations like that the personality of Jesus doesn’t come through. Yeah, you are right. Thank you.”
Because we want to access that, it’s not about religion anymore. It’s not about some standard that has been set that everyone is supposed to live up to. It’s not about fear or guilt or any external failure of any kind, any external measuring rod of any kind. It’s just about whether or not we accessed and lived in the person of Jesus and He came shining through in situation after situation after situation. He didn’t in this situation… Well fine, that’s an opportunity to access the life of Christ, to learn why He doesn’t come through in that kind of situation every time when He should.
So, we are working together so that we’ll shine like stars in the universe, so that we’ll all together, the whole family of God, shine in the full measure of the stature of Christ and glow and emanate His personality, His character and His victory in situation after situation. That would certainly be His desire for His own body, right? The Body of Christ would reflect the character and personality of Christ from tip to toe, from head to furthest fingernail. That’s His desire.
It’s a process then, of working together in this adventure of not just living with Him or for Him, but the adventure of discovering the fullness of what it means to live in Him—and let Him show Himself in ten thousand situations that our flesh would be so incapable of even conceiving. But far beyond, immeasurably, superabundantly beyond, anything we could ever conceive of—that’s what He wants to do powerfully within us…together and as individuals.